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How to Rank First on Google

Every business wants to rank first on Google, but with so many moving parts it’s difficult to know where to start. From Google’s ever-evolving algorithm, to paid ads and search engine optimization (SEO). Everything you do can have an impact on your ranking. In this article we’ll get straight to the point to highlight where you should look first to help get your business on page one. This largely comprised of small modifications to your website and marketing strategy. Stay tuned for more articles like this that will take a deeper dive into SEO and marketing.

Before we get started here are a few words that may come up in this article that will be important to understand:

Index – Google stores all webpages it knows about in its index. This index entry describes the content and location (URL) of the page. This index is a living track record of your website pages.

Crawl – The process Google uses to look for new or updated web pages on your website. Google finds this by following links on site maps and then indexes any new pages or updates using a crawler(dubbed the Googlebot), an automated software that fetches site pages to index.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization: the process of improving your website for search engine rankings. Very popular buzzword that is often thrown around without many people fully understanding what it involves.

Let’s begin with the very basics and with one key assumption on our part –  assuming you already have a website. IF you do not have a website this is the perfect time to contact our web team at QSG to get one built specifically for your business from our design and marketing experts.

 

Submit a Sitemap

Up above, we talked about indexing and crawling your website to get a track record of your web pages and content. A sure fire way to get this information to Google quickly is by creating and submitting a sitemap. Detailed instructions to set up your own sitemap can be found here: Learn how to build a sitemap >

Use Relevant Page Titles & Descriptions

Every webpage has a title associated with it in the code. The <title> tag tells both users and search engines the particular topic of that page. In WordPress websites this is often the “page title” you choose when creating a new WordPress page. Each page on your website should have a unique and relevant title.

Avoid: Using a title with no relation to the page content or vague titles such as New Page, Untitled, etc. Don’t use the same title for each page and avoid lengthy titles stuffed with unnecessary keywords

An example of a good page title:

HTML snippet showing the title tag
Image Source: Google

Meta Descriptions:

A page’s description meta tag gives Google additional information about the content of the page. Since a page title is meant to be a few words or a phrase, the description is where the “elevator pitch” for that page should go. Like the <title> element this is also placed in the <head> of the HTML file. WordPress plugins such as Yoast SEO has an interface for adding these to your pages.

HTML snippet showing the <meta> description tag
Image Source: Google

Your search in action:

Sample plain blue link search result for "baseball cards"
Image Source: Google

Content is King

Writing high-quality content that is relevant and has an appropriate amount of keywords is extremely important. This is why many top firms and businesses hire content writers or have their own internal team for this. Knowing what your users want to read and might search for is the foundation for writing your core content. Google gives a great example of this:

“A long-time soccer fan might search for [fifa], an acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, while a new fan might use a more general query like [soccer playoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results.[1]” Google Ads provides a  Keyword Planner that helps you get a clear idea of popular keywords in your industry.

Make sure you have a SSL Certificate (https)

Having an SSL certificate on your website gives you the little lock icon to the left of you URL. This is extremely important to your Google ranking as it tells Google your site is safe for users to visit. If you site is not secure you may see “Not Secure” to the left of your url instead with a red yield sign. Don’t see a lock on your site? Contact us! We’ll get you a FREE SSL certificate for your website when you switch to our hosting.

Optimize your Website (Images, Scripts, etc)

Google is all about awarding those who give their visitors an excellent user experience. This means fast, easy to use secure (see above) websites get a lot of favor in search results. Check how your site holds up with a tool like: Google’s PageSpeed Insights which breaks down areas you’ll need to improve.

Improvements to your site speed and optimization include minimizing and deferring scripts, lazy load for images and image optimization, along with many other small tweaks to your caching and site content. You can see more details when you run Google’s PageSpeed Insights with specific areas of improvement listed.

Mobile Friendly

Google offers a tool that gives you a quick Mobile-friendly test to see if your website is responsive. Believe it or not, there are still a lot of websites that do not scale properly for mobile or tablet devices which significantly impacts user experience. Something that Google is strongly against and hurts your ranking. Making sure your website looks great no matter how visitors access it not only helps your ranking but also shows your customers your website is modern and proper time was spent on development. If you don’t pass the mobile friendly test, give us a call at 248.247.3000 or send us a message, our team will work with what you have or offer a new strategy that makes the most sense for your customers and business.

 

Summary

We hope this article helped highlight a few core areas of your website that could be improved for SEO and search rankings. From simple additions like site maps and SSL certificates to deep dives into content and mobile responsiveness, everything you do to improve your site will be time well spent as more and more prospects find your site. We do understand it is very overwhelming with so many components, buzzwords, and sometimes code. But our team at QSG knows exactly what to do and is here to support you wherever you’re at in the process. When you’re ready to get your website on page 1 give us a call at 248.247.3000 or contact us – we’d love to work with you!

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